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Happy birthday, Summer Garden!
April 5 (March 25), 1704 – can be considered the official date of the foundation of the Summer Garden. It was on this day, 314 years ago, that the first mention of the Summer Garden of St. Petersburg happened. “How do you get my letter, if you please, without missing the time, all the flowers from Izmailov not gradually, but more than those smell like, send with a gardener in St. Petersburg.” This order was received by the head of the discharge order Tikhon Streshnev from Peter the Great in the spring of 1704. In early June of the same year, carts with plants for planting in the royal garden had already arrived in St. Petersburg. The story of the creation of the royal summer residence – the Summer Garden – begins.
The site, for a summer stay in St. Petersburg under construction, Peter chooses in May 1703. The place for home and garden, from the point of view of Peter I, is ideal. On three sides it is surrounded by water: from the north by the river Neva, from the south by the river Mya (Moika), and from the east by the channel – Nameless Yerik (Fontanka). The territory is already equipped, there is a house with outbuildings and a small garden in Dutch style. On the site of the former manor of the Swedish officer Konau, the future Summer Garden is laid.
The initial stage of the work was led by Ivan Matveyev (Urgumov). Under his leadership, the wooden Summer Palace for Peter is being built, the first fountains are being built, a water wheel is placed on the river. Planting trees and perennial flowers, the cultivation of spicy herbs first dealt with gardeners and truck farmers, sent from Moscow gardens, as well as Swedish prisoners of war.
The first foreign garden master in the Summer Garden is Johann Yaftman or, as it was called in the Russian manner, Ivan Yakovlev. Coming from Narva, he entered the Tsar’s service as a garden master in 1704. In 1709, he was transferred from Moscow to the Summer Garden of St. Petersburg. As Ivan Yakovlev himself writes about his work in the Summer Garden: “He is taken to St. Petersburg to arrange a garden at the Summer Palace, which he arranged and all sorts of fruitful and wild trees planted, and that garden brought it to its proper state.”
The efforts of Russian and foreign garden masters, as well as the inexhaustible energy of Peter I by 1715, according to the descriptions of his contemporaries, was well arranged, decorated with fountains and sculptures and produced a favorable impression on visitors.
Peter I on a walk in the Summer Garden, artist A. Benois, 1910.
Map of Ingria, a fragment – the mouth of the Neva and Nyenskans, created in 1704. The Royal Library of Stockholm.
“Nishtad Peace” (“Peace and Abundance”), 1724. Pietro Baratta, Italy